The Mark of a True Christian

I have been very fortunate to grow up in a healthy home with loving and supportive parents who raised me well. The importance of being obedient to my parents and respecting their decisions was instilled within me at a young age. My parents were stricter than most and at times I felt like I was missing out. I even recall being ridiculed by some of my peers for supposedly living too sheltered of a life. Admittedly, there were occasions where I was inclined to agree, particularly with the severe forms of discipline I faced when I made poor decisions. In retrospect, I am very grateful for the way in which my parents raised me because of the person that I am today.

In a very similar way, the Scriptures reveal to us that God not only desires our obedience but He commands it. In John 14:15, Jesus pointedly tells us that “If you love Me, you will obey-god-in-loveobey what I command”. He later expands on this by saying, “If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching, My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching(John 14:23-24). Without reservation, Jesus declares that obedience is required within the Christian Walk as we follow Him. In effect, the love which we have for God through Christ results in obedience to do what God has asked and called us to become. In John 14 verse 23, we are also told that as we obey God’s teaching that the Father will love us and that They(we) will also make Their home with us. Jesus is referring to when the Holy Spirit resides within our souls in our bodies which have now been transformed into holy temples through Christ’s perfect atoning sacrifice on Calvary.

I am about to digress a little here but I assure you that is for good reason. What I find alarming and disconcerting about the way in which the Gospel is preached today is that there is an imbalanced emphasis on salvation by grace with little to no mention of the need for the now-saved-sinner to pursue continued repentance. I understand that the work on the Cross is finished however this does not preclude the absolute vital need for repentance through making war with sin by the power of the Holy Spirit. When the Gospel is preached while neglecting the essential repentance aspect, a half-truth Gospel is being spread which is really no Gospel at all(Galatians 1:6). What I have seen is one of the results from this twisted gospel message is people ignorantly presuming on God’s grace, thinking that they have a licence to sin because the need for repentance is either minimized or forgotten altogether. The other dilemma is that the majority of this time the person is not genuinely saved, though they falsely think that they are. This half-truth Gospel falsely portrays Jesus as a sort of functional savior where nothing is required from the sinner after accepting Jesus. Jesus Himself warns and advises us to count the costs of following Him. He demands our full allegiance and this will require sacrifice and our unbridled commitment. 

I need to provide some basic Christian theology of justification in order to bring things full circle. Being indwelt by the Holy Spirit initially occurred when we believed in Christ alone for our salvation, in turn making Him the Savior and Lord of our lives. Now God declares us as justified before Him. Amazingly, when God looks at us He sees us clothed in the righteousness of His Son, Jesus. The mark of a true Christian is not that we are now perfect, or not going to stumble, rather, it is derived from true repentance.     

I believe that it would be helpful to establish a working definition of repentance in order to ensure that we are all on the same page. Easton’s Bible Dictionary defines repentance as:

an actual hatred of sin (Ps. 119:128; Job 42:5, 6; 2 Cor. 7:10) and turning from it to God…and a persistent endeavour after a holy life in a walking with God in the way of his commandments. The true penitent is conscious of guilt (Ps. 51:4, 9), of pollution (51:5, 7, 10), and of helplessness (51:11; 109:21, 22). Thus he apprehends himself to be just what God has always seen him to be and declares him to be. But repentance comprehends not only such a sense of sin, but also an apprehension of mercy, without which there can be no true repentance (Ps. 51:1; 130:4)”.

Repentance is all about turning away from the sin which formerly held us captive through taking off the grave clothes and putting on the grace clothes. As believers in Christ, we now possess this power to be victorious over any and all sin because its stronghold and grasp over us has been destroyed. True believers in Christ are sealed with the Holy Spirit by God. Therefore, the Holy Spirit is not something that comes and goes within real Christians. However, even as believers, our flesh is very weak and we are ourselves are incredibly prone to go astray. That is why it is indispensable that we walk in obedience by following God’s commands, especially when it comes to daily repentance and putting to death the deeds of the flesh(Romans 8:13). As Jesus continues speaking in John 14 about obedience, He becomes more direct about what He meant in verse 23 when says, “we”. In verse 26 Jesus says, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you”. We need to be continually filled by the Holy Spirit in order that we may be led and controlled by Him so that God becomes the Lord over all entire lives…not just on Sundays. As I see it, this only happens as an overflow of our love for God through active obedience to God and His commands. Even the smallest, seemingly insignificant day-to-day decisions make the biggest difference over time. CS Lewis put it this way,

“Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible(CS Lewis p 132).

The Holy Spirit drives the whole engine of the Christian life, therefore when it is grieved or quenched by our disobedience, we stumble back into our sinful and comeholyspiritfleshly tendencies. Herein lies the danger of disobedience. Although believers are indeed indwelt by the Holy Spirit, God does not remove our free will. This means that we have the choice each and every day to either obey God allowing our souls to be filled with the Holy Spirit or to disobey God thereby quenching the Holy Spirit. The former way enables God to work in and through us where He works mightily enabling us to be all that God has designed and purposed for us to become. The latter way leads to an unfruitful and strangled Christian life where instead of thriving we end up merely surviving.

Like loving parents who know what is best for their children, we can rest on the ironclad promise that God knows what is best for us. Even though there are times when we feel like we know better, we need to trust in God and His perfect timing for all things. He is our good Father and He will withhold no good thing for us as we lovingly obey and walk rightly with Him (Pslam 84:11).

The importance of obedience to God is instrumental for living a fruitful, God-honouring, Christ-exalting, kingdom-furthering Christian life. The Old Testament contains numerous examples of those who stepped out in faith to pursue what God was calling them to do. Comfortable Christians cannot change the world. It is not until we leave our comfort zones that God is able start to work through us in ways which you and I cannot begin to imagine.

Lord, I pray that this blog post may serve to help embolden Your Church to courageously pursue opportunities where we are being called even if they make us uncomfortable. I also pray that we delight in following You and Your commandments because of our pure love and devotion to You. Help us to live real Christian lives marked with repentance and an unceasing passion to reach the lost. In Jesus’ Name, I pray, Amen.

References:

Easton’s Bible Dictionary by Matthew George Easton

Mere Christianity by CS Lewis

 

“Take off the GraveClothes and Put on the GraceClothes!”

The enemy has always had a propensity to offer cheap substitutes in exchange for the glorious hope which can be found only in Christ Himself. The fleshly desires which have plagued Contentment in Himhumanity since the Fall do not satisfy simply because they cannot satisfy. The desires of the flesh are unquenchable and they will continuously demand more and more. Interestingly, the more that we feed these desires, the more that they will hunger and thirst to be filled. True, soul-satisfying contentment is not found in more money, a bigger house, a faster car, a more lucrative career, a better education, partying it up, a more attractive spouse or even religion for the matter. You will literally go insane chasing after these empty pursuits because you will always come up short! Feelings of disappointment and disillusionment will ensue every single time. There is unequivocally nothing under the sun which is capable of ever providing our hearts with full and lasting satisfaction.

Our God is certainly a compassionate Father abounding in patience desiring for all of us to come to repentance, however I do believe that there is a point of no return that deserves to be mentioned. Dabbling in sin, particularly habitual sin, is extremely dangerous territory for the Christian. A prime example of this in found when Esau sells his birthright inheritance for a single meal, directly disobeying God. Upon desiring God’s blessing, Esau is unable to repent despite the fact that he sought it earnestly.

Hebrews 12:15-17 tells us:

15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.

When it comes to sin in our own lives, particularly with respect to repeated, intentional and habitual sin, I fear that too many believers mistakenly believe that God’s grace somehow provides a licence for them to remain in this sin. In Romans 6:1-4 Paul reminds believers of the following:

1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

The enemy is very cunning and deceptive with the strategy and the tactics he uses to lure us into committing sinful behaviours. What I have learnt from books as well as personal experience is that if we are not actively pursuing the Lord, then we are in effect drifting away which quenches the indwelling Holy Spirit. One of Satan’s primary weapons is to do whatever it takes to persuade us to compromise away No Compromiseour Christian convictions. It always starts with something seemingly small and innocent. As time progresses, we begin to rationalize and justify why this sin is not actually sin at all, falling prey to the enemy’s lies. Moreover, we begin to build up a threshold of tolerance where we our flesh demands more of a “buzz”. At this point, the seemingly innocent sin evolves into an addictive sinful pattern progressively pulling us further and further away from God. Our formerly high sensitivity to this sin gradually depletes and unbeknownst to the Christian, he or she has strayed so far away that it becomes exceedingly challenging to repent.

This concept of reaching a point of no return is quite controversial however I do believe that it merits discussion because Satan is constantly prowling around like a roaring lion looking for whom he may devour on sight(1 Pet 5:8). 1 John 5:16-17 talks about sinning unto death below:

16 If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.

GotQuestion.org defines the “sin unto death” as “willful, continuous, unrepentant sin”. This specific passage is exceedingly complicated to interpret, however it should underscore the reality that we are living in a spiritual battleground where we need God every second of every minute of every hour of every day. We need to be consistently growing and maturing in our faith through being in God’s Word and living out an authentic Christian Life in joyful obedience to Him. We should be so filled with the Holy Spirit that we need not even entertain the very thought of committing any sin which formerly held us captive.

In a like manner Ephesians 4:17-19 says,

17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

It is completely illogical to re-visit our former sinful ways because of this infinitely precious and glorious gift we have in Christ Jesus Who imputes His entire righteousness onto us when we humbly believe and trust in His atoning work on Calvary! We need to crucify those old fleshly desires and “…put on the new self created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness”(Eph. 4:24). Jesus already paid the price in full and destroyed the power which sin formerly had over us(Romans 7) so let’s embrace this glorious freedom we have in Christ!

New in Jesus

Reference: http://www.gotquestions.org/sin-unto-death.html 

The Best Time Is Yet To Come

Resting in the glorious truth that God is indeed fully sovereign and all-knowing over every single detail of our lives should give us all peace, assurance, and hope as we entrust every fabric of our being unto Him. Melwyn And Ruth Misquitta from Witness Ministries recently wrote the following blog entry regarding this importance of trusting in our all-sovereign Father at all times. I pray that you find it as encouraging, and spiritually-edifying as I did!

FAITH BOOSTER:

The Best Time Is Yet To Come [May 03, 2016]

WORD OF FAITH:

The vision is yet for an appointed time…Habakkuk 2:3, NKJV

The scripture says, “The vision is for an appointed time.” That means there is a specific time already determined for the fulfillment of the desires God has placed in your heart. The appointed time is the best time! We have to trust that God can see the big picture for our lives. He knows what’s up ahead. He knows what we’re going to need, who we’re going to need, and when they need to show up. If God did everything we ask on our timetable, it would limit us because sometimes, what we’re asking for is too small. Sometimes the person we think we can’t live without, God knows in ten years they’re not going to be good for us. So He is closing the door right now. Sometimes the promotion we want so badly, if God gave it to us right now, He knows it would keep us from a much bigger promotion that He has three years down the road.

Remember, God has the advantage of seeing it all. The longer I live, the more I trust Him. The more I see His hand of faithfulness, the more I know that His plan is better than my plan. Today, trust that He knows what He’s doing. Trust that He has an appointed time, and it is the best time to bring to pass His promises in your life!

DECLARATION OF FAITH:

Father, today I put my dreams, desires, hopes and longings into Your loving hands. I trust that the vision You have given me is for an appointed time. I know Your timing is best so I will praise You until I see the promise in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Original Blog Entry:

https://witnessministries.wordpress.com/2016/05/03/the-best-time-is-yet-to-come/

He Orchestrates Your Life

Great post!
It’s very encouraging, and so incredibly true!
Good things certainly come to those who prayerfully and faithfully wait upon the Lord!
I have definitely learnt the importance of always trusting in God by leaning on His strength and relying on His wisdom from His Word particularly throughout life’s valleys!
The precision of His timing for those who obediently submit to Him is unparalleled and it is infinitely greater than we could ever accomplish alone.
Thanks for sharing!

Original Blog Entry below:

https://witnessministries.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/he-orchestrates-your-life/

Pushing Through

Great post and well-worth the read!
I can certainly relate to the importance of always maintaining a persevering, trusting, and grateful attitude towards the Lord. God is so incredibly faithful and He will always provide regardless of how bleak things may seem at the time. Therefore, He alone is infinitely worthy of our full, unblemished submission and reliance with whatever comes our way in life!
Have a great weekend!

Original Blog Entry below:

https://thegamehuddle.wordpress.com/2016/03/26/the-way-god-wins/

Pushing Through

Great post and well-worth the read!
I can certainly relate to the importance of always maintaining a persevering, trusting, and grateful attitude towards the Lord. God is so incredibly faithful and He will always provide regardless of how bleak things may seem at the time. Therefore, He alone is infinitely worthy of our full, unblemished submission and reliance with whatever comes our way in life!
Have a great weekend!

The Game Huddle

Ricardo Camacho Photo Credit: Ricardo Camacho via CC Flickr

“But I trust in Your unfailing love. My heart rejoices in Your deliverance. I will sing the LORD’s praise, for He has been good to me.” Psalm 13:6

Psalm 13 shows us what to do when we find ourselves asking tough questions like this:

* How long will You forget me? (v1)

* How long will You hide from me? (v1)

* How long must I wrestle with my thoughts? (v2)

* How long must my heart sorrow? (v2)

* How long will my enemies triumph over me? (v2)

All these questions make me think that maybe Psalm 13 was written by an athlete or coach going through a tough season, rough injury, personal performance slump, real loneliness, broken relationship, or a long losing streak. And it’s written to an audience that will likely feel the very same way.

BUT Psalm 13 ends…

View original post 153 more words

Obedience Brings Blessings

Thank-you for writing this beautiful and well-timed post. I like how you connected and related obedience to our faith in God. May God embolden His followers to pursue more godly risks even when they may not make sense at the time!

Boosters, Prayers & Confessions

hqdefault.jpg 

FAITH BOOSTER:

Obedience Brings Blessings [Mar.09, 2016]

WORD OF FAITH:

“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession…”(Exodus 19:5, NIV)

Sometimes God asks us to do things that don’t make sense. It doesn’t seem logical. It doesn’t fit into our budget. It doesn’t line up with our schedule. “God, You want me to go back to college? I’m 40 years old.” “God, You want me to give them a gift? I was saving those funds for my own dreams.” Or, “God, You want me to leave this secure position that I’ve had for years and start my own business?” Too often we over-analyze it. We debate it. Look at it only in the natural. We end up making excuses, talking ourselves out of it, “That couldn’t be God.” But if you’re going to reach your highest…

View original post 224 more words

Pride will Destroy

Has anyone ever stopped and pondered on what the root of every sin is? Fundamentally, I would contend that the root of every sin is pride. As innately sin-prone humans, we do not merely sin for the sake of sinning. Rather, the allure of sin is derived from the deception that we are autonomous beings who foolishly think that we do not need to be accountable to any higher being. We sin out of our own selfish-thinking which postulates that we know what is best for us and that we have somehow evolved past needing God. When we sin, we blatantly transgress and disobey God, essentially telling Him that we are sovereign over our lives. In doing so, we push God away and decide to live selfishly.Pride.jpg

Continue reading

Suffering, Perseverance, Character, and Hope(Part 4 of 4)

Throughout today’s post I will conclude this four-part series by focusing on the Hope that we all share as believers in Christ.hope in Christ (1)

Although hope is essentially the final resultant fruit yielded from our suffering as Christians(Romans 5:3-4), I feel that its influence has the ability to penetrate into every facet of our lives. In fact, it is the very hope in the return of Christ which serves as the basis for believers to purify themselves in this life (Titus 2:11-14, 1 John 3:3). Continue reading